Gov. Gregoire announces budget reduction alternatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 27, 2011
OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today presented a list of budget reduction alternatives as a starting point to the conversation lawmakers must engage in to resolve the state’s budget deficit.
“These budget alternatives will impact real people,” Gregoire said. “They’re all around us. They’re in our neighborhoods, on our streets, in our schools – and they have needs the state will no longer be able to meet. I put myself in the shoes of the people who will be hurt. I asked myself of all the services our citizens receive, which ones are the most important and which ones – by necessity – are we forced to do without.”
“This is a beginning,” Gregoire continued. “I expect additional feedback from communities and various stakeholder groups that I will certainly consider before I present a more complete budget next month. This list will likely change before then. But not much – our options are limited. We’ve already cut $10 billion from state government over the last three years, which leaves very few options moving forward. I said the work of slashing our budget by another $2 billion would be dreadful, and that’s what it is. Washingtonians are going to get a lot less of what they need.”
In August, Gregoire directed state agencies to submit to the Office of Financial Management a list of options to reduce agency budgets by up to 10 percent. Since then, the governor has worked tirelessly with her Cabinet and budget advisors, and continued to solicit ideas from state employees and citizens, to identify additional expenditure reductions to achieve $2 billion in savings.
Reductions that will likely be included in Gregoire’s November budget proposal would:
- Eliminate the Basic Health Plan, ending subsidized health care to 35,000 low-income individuals.
- Cut off medical services to 21,000 people enrolled in the state’s Disability Lifeline and ADATSA (Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treatment Support Act) programs.
- Trim 15 percent from the support the state provides to colleges and universities.
- Reduce levy equalization, which helps property poor districts, by 50 percent.
- Cut the length of supervision for all offenders, based on severity of offense. Sex offenders will be supervised for 24 months, and all other offenders, for 12 months.
“This is what our choices look like even after we let go of thousands of state workers and cut money to our public schools, our colleges and universities, our prisons, and shredded our safety net for the old, sick, and poor,” Gregoire said. “This is what our options look like even after we’ve taken the biggest steps in decades to make government leaner and more efficient.”
“I don’t want anyone to think that I like these options,” Gregoire added. “These choices were made out of necessity due to a drop in consumer confidence brought on by actions on Wall Street, inaction by Congress and the European debt crisis. The list of options I’ve presented hurts. This is not what I signed up for when I started as a caseworker 40 years ago. But it’s what the world economy handed our state and our country.”
For a full list of cut options and a look at the governor’s preferred choices, visit: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/reductions/alternatives/default.asp
Contact: Ralph Thomas, 360-902-7607 or Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136